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Bulldogs prepare for season

Head coach Fawn Sims and the Pike County Lady Bulldogs softball team is less than one week away from starting full-team workouts and Simms, for the first time in many years, will have an experienced roster back.

The Bulldogs had a slew of injuries last year that hampered their efforts. Through the first two weeks of workouts, the Bulldogs appear to be healthy.

“That’s what did us in last year,” Sims said. “That is what hurt us – that and inexperience.”

This year, the Bulldogs have 23 players on their roster and many of them are back from last year.

“I have most of my players back,” Sims said. “I have three seniors this year after not having any last year.”

The Bulldogs have bulked up in the offseason. They have hit the weight room more than in years past and Sims hopes it will make a difference on the field.

“We’ve added a class this year and it has been great,” Sims said. “We have more time in the weight room and I think that is really going to benefit us.”

One new challenge for Sims and the Bulldogs has been that seven players are taking college classes at Troy University, which will cut into softball practices and games this season.

“I have had to make some pretty strong adjustments to my spring schedule to give them more study time,” Sims said.

As a result, the Bulldogs will cut back on the amount of games they play during the week and focus more on playing in tournaments on the weekends.

“I am not even playing a full 18-game schedule to give them more time to study during the week,” Sims said. “I am going to add more tournaments so we are going to be more tournament-heavy on the weekends compared to usual. It’s a bittersweet problem to have because half my varsity starters are going to be college students. We are trying to adjust to that.”

The Bulldogs will welcome new players that Sims said may not have a lot of softball experience, but do have athleticism and Sims is excited about the possibilities.

“I have five new ones (players) that are basketball players,” Sims said. “They have already played for coach (Todd) Reynolds in volleyball and basketball so they are going to be in good shape and they don’t quit. Even if they don’t have softball experience, they are athletes and I can win with that. I am very excited to have these athletes.”

The Bulldogs have revamped their goals over the offseason. They no longer just want to win games; they want to be a team.

“They are so focused on the team right now and on each other,” Sims said. “I tell them ‘If you can’t find a way to become a unit, you can’t build anything.’ They have really been buying into that.”

That mindset has become a reality because of the veteran leadership that coach Sims has developed during her first three seasons at the helm. With veterans returning, Sims expects the leadership to be at an all-time high.

“Day one they set the tone,” Sims said. “I could not have been more excited about the leadership. They don’t ask me for a copy of the practice plan. They just took it and ran with it. They work hard and they show up ready for work.”

The Bulldogs will play in their first game on February 19 when they participate in the Ariton Junior High Tournament. The junior varsity squad will open up on March 2 in the Ashford Tournament and the varsity will officially open up on March 6 on the road against Wicksburg.